Research Assistant
Diana Fusco

As a palaeoecologist, I combine palaeontology and ecology to explore interactions between organisms and their environments across geological timescales. My research focuses on how Australia’s fauna countered its changing environment during the Pleistocene and how this information can be applied as a tool for conservation. Anthropogenic processes such as climate change and defaunation pose the most pressing threat to biodiversity on this planet. We can look to the past to see how these processes played out in ancient ecosystems and use this knowledge to better protect and manage biodiversity into the future.

I’m presently focused on fossil assemblages from the Wellington Caves in NSW, which is where the first fossils of extinct Australian marsupials first became known to western science in 1830. The cave contains a rich assemblage of vertebrate fossils, including extinct megafaunal species as well as the smaller animals that shared the landscape.

I’m also involved in the undergraduate teaching program and contribute to a variety of palaeontology, ecology, earth science and archaeology topics.

Twitter: @HvyMetalPalaeo


Fusco, D. A., Arnold, L. J., Gully, G. A., Levchenko, V. A., Jacobsen, G. E., & Prideaux, G. J. (2023). Revisiting the late Quaternary fossiliferous infills of Cathedral Cave, central eastern New South Wales. Journal of Quaternary Science, https://doi.org/10.1002/jqs.3497

Fusco, D. A., McDowell, M. C., Medlin, G., & Prideaux, G. J. (2017). Fossils reveal late Holocene diversity and post-European decline of the terrestrial mammals of the Murray–Darling Depression. Wildlife Research, 44(1), 60-71. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1071/WR16134

Fusco, D. A., McDowell, M. C., & Prideaux, G. J. (2016). Late Holocene mammal fauna from southern Australia reveals rapid species declines post-European settlement: implications for conservation biology. The Holocene, 26(5), 699-708. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.08.010

Grealy, A. C., McDowell, M. C., Scofield, R. P., Murray, D. C., Fusco, D. A., Haile, J., Prideaux, G. J., & Bunce, M. (2015). A critical evaluation of how ancient DNA bulk bone metabarcoding complements traditional morphological analysis of fossil assemblages. Quaternary Science Reviews, 128, 37-47.

Pearson, S., Tobe, S., Fusco, D., Bull, C., & Gardner, M. (2015). Piles of scats for piles of DNA: deriving DNA of lizards from their faeces. Australian Journal of Zoology, 62(6), 507-514.

Wilson, C., Roberts, A., & Fusco, D. (2022). New data and syntheses for the zooarchaeological record from the Lower Murray River Gorge, South Australia: Applying a ngatji lens. Australian Archaeology, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/03122417.2022.2042639